Thursday, 21 December 2017

How to Choose your First Gym

At the time of writing it's fast approaching the end of 2017. As a gym-based coach I'm seeing numbers at my facility drop drastically as priorities shift and motivation around the holiday period falls short of ideal. In a matter of weeks, however, gyms up and down the country will be crawling with fresh-faced and enthusiastic newbies, all with their own unique set of fitness goals that they've decided that this year will unquestionably be fulfilled.

But with the staggering number of gyms and health clubs out there, how on earth is a newcomer going to decide where all this muscle will be grown, fat will be melted, treadmill miles will be clocked, (INSERT GENERIC FITNESS GOAL HERE)?

Let's take a look at what needs to be considered...


When selecting a location for your impending fitness miracle you'll need to find somewhere suitable, in a good destination and with the correct equipment.

  1. Choose a gym that is located on your way to either work or somewhere you have to visit regularly. Getting home after a hard day in the office and then having to drag yourself out again is about as achievable as acquiring a chest like Arnie's.
  2. Find somewhere that's open as much as possible. 24 hour gyms are all over the place now and are getting better and better. The equipment is regularly maintained and they are forced to cater to a wide range of the population, probably including you! Again, removing the potential for skipping a workout - 'I couldn't train because the gym was closed' - is vital at this early stage.
  3. Consider whether you'll know anyone there. This might sound like a strange one but I know loads of people who feel so self-conscious that if they see someone they know at their gym they feel instantly embarrassed and stop going. Conversely, others find that familiar faces make for a more relaxed and welcoming environment. Think about how comfortable you'll be with bumping into that guy you dated who it didn't work out with before signing up for your yearly membership!


  1. Always put your weights back. You know that person who leaves a stack of dirty mugs and dishes in the communal sink at work? Hold that feeling... That's how much the gym users and staff will hate you if you don't put your weights back after using them.
  2. Wash your gym clothes! Just because you're exercising you have no excuse to stink. A smelly gym is not a nice environment so do us all a favour and make sure your new clobber is always fresh.
  3. Don't be too polite. A gym can be a busy place, especially in January, and there won't always be enough equipment to go around. If you see a machine that you want to use is taken, don't just wonder off and completely change your workout because of this minor inconvenience. Feel free to wait for the person in question to take their rest and politely enquire as to how long they will be using the kit. 90% of the time you'll get a response that resembles 'last set' or 'two more'. In these instances the equipment will be free in no more than 3 minutes so hang around.
  4. Don't interrupt a set. Reiterating my last point, you must always wait for someone to stop what they're doing before interrupting them while they're exercising. Some exercises can take a lot of concentration and are awfully complex which makes stopping mid set both dangerous and often very frustrating.


  1. Don't be tempted by the fads. As a general rule, if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is and the fitness industry is to blame for a lot of deception and false marketing.
  2. Not all Personal Trainers are created equal. On average, roughly 80% of Personal Trainers drop out of the industry after just 18 months! This incredible statistic highlights many of the problems within the health and fitness sphere. Try to suss out which of the trainers at your gym are actually there to serve their clients and which of them are looking for a bit of pocket money and as many Instagram followers they can get their grubby mitts on.
  3. Some of your fellow gym-goers will be super knowledgeable. Exercise is just like anything else - you get better at it the more you practise. Some gym-goers will have clocked up an intimidating number of hours worth of exercise over the years. They will have made mistakes along the way and hopefully worked on correcting them. If you see someone with a killer physique consistently training with what looks to be solid technique and control, I'd encourage you to chat to them. Compliment them on kicking ass and pick their brains.

Now go off into the world of training to begin carving out the body that's been hiding under there all this time!


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